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We are currently on another long distance hike, and the third leg of our "triple crown", the Continental Divide Trail (the "CDT"). Come along with us if you can - if not in person then by following our grand adventure via our "posts from the trail".  Check out our Flickr Photos, which we'll update periodically, and see it through our eyes!

Our Credo...

"Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

June 29th

The alarm went off at 5am and we dragged ourselves outside, despite the objections of legs that were still stiff and sore from yesterday afternoons hard hike. The mossies were waiting and it took a morning splash of deet just to get dressed.

After a half hour of walking the legs felt fine again, good even to be moving. The trail dropped quickly into the woods to follow the Walker River cCnyon. We came to a trail junction to Cinco Lakes and remembered that the guidebook suggested an older version of the PCT, now an alternate route to the actual PCT that goes there. But a sign showed the PCT heading that way. Confused, we pulled out the guidebook and map and headed down the West Walker River Trail. After walking almost a mile and a half and dropping about 800 foot in elevation, we realized we were too far east and to low to be on the PCT. We were on the wrong trail. Sure enough, a closer inspection of the map showed we had turned off at the wrong trail junction. The sign was right after all. Now, technically, we weren’t “lost”; we knew exactly where we were. We just were not where we wanted to be and started walking back UP the lost miles and elevation, mostly frustrated at the lost time. Our hour and half scenic detour will make it hard to get up to the crest before the afternoon storms set in. And hard to meet our friends at Sonora pass by 2pm.

We stop for breakfast beside a small stream. As we unpack foodstuff, the deet now worn off, my arms and legs become quickly covered with the “million mossie march” assembled in an impromptu protested to our use of deet, no doubt.

En route to the Crest we pass by the 1,000-mile mark, a major milestone. Shortly after the trail follows Kennedy Creek on its way back up to the crest. We slowly switchback up almost 2,000 feet on an old jeep road to regain the crest. I remember the next 9 miles very vividly from 94, its one of the most dramatic of the entire trail with expansive views of mountains and valleys on both sides and close up glimpses of towering volcanic peaks and ice bound lakes.

As we gain the crest we are delighted to find only a few puffy, benign looking clouds. Enjoying lunch and a final look back at the Yosemite Highlands is Ron Strickland, aka “Pathfinder,” whom we had met at a gathering of long distance hikers a couple of years ago. We stop for a brief re-acquaintance, a couple of photos and some snacks, now intent on making miles to our Sonora pass rendezvous.

The walk along the crest is as incredible as it ever was, still able to inspire awe. Increasing clouds add to the variations in light and the feeling of being “on top of the world”. The landscape is dominated by volcanic rock formations. Granite has been replaced by basalt and the gray tones of the high sierras have given way to a variety of reds and grays. As we approach Latrope Peak, we watch one cloud stuck on its summit.

Over the next hour as we draw closer this cloud does not move on, instead it grows larger and darker and envelopes more of the landscape. we cross a saddle to the east and get the full sense of the storm that is brewing.

Two crystals we find on the ground delight us and bring us a brief diversion. But we know the race is now on and we must hurry to try and complete the crest walk before the storm sets in. We make it across the high point on a prominent ridge and down the slope some before stopping long enough to don rain gear and grab a quick bite. We see the once more distant storm cell closing in and decide that the slope we are on is just too exposed, so we race for the next notch.

Although the notch is surrounded by higher peaks, we feel it is too exposed also to be safe in the face of the approaching lightening, so start at a quick pace to the next low point. Its not low enough to my liking and we would be its most prominent feature, so with the cracking now nearly overhead we “bomb” off the trail to a steep depressed hole holding a frozen pond. We find the smallest rocks on the slope in a field of medium sized boulders. It’s the best protection we can find. We lay low, backs against a rock, and pull the tyvek out once again into its now familiar position.

The rain comes fast and furious and is followed by hail. He first couple of waves of hail are like those of the two previous days. Then a third wave of hail hits hard. The marble sized pellets of ice sting the fingers, heads and knee caps which prop the tyvek. We are thankful that the whole body is not being pelted, and marvel that the tyvek is not being ripped to shreds. An occasional peak outside provides a glimpse at a world turning white.

After more than an hour the storm slacks off, we come out and are in awe of the winter like scene. We know that we may not have a big window of opportunity so we hurry for the next saddle where we cross back to the east side of the crest. Sure enough, a different storm cell is bearing down on our ridge, coming in from the west.

We have about a mile to traverse this slope before we will cross another saddle and drop to the east for the final time and into a more sheltered area. We do “double time”, literally, running to beat the storm. We catch up to Pathfinder who pretty much has walked straight through it all.

At 4pm we finally arrive at the pass and meet our friends Jersy Jim and Henry Shires who are patiently waiting. They understand our delay, as they have tasted a bit of the storm in their aborted attempt to climb up and meet us on the trail. Spirit is also at the pass with several of the unit waiting and warming up in her van.

Jim and Henry bring the Carrot and I, as well as a couple of other hikers, into Bridgeport, where a hot shower, a big dinner, beer and a warm bed await.

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